For retail marketers, the past five years have been tough. Not only did the economy tank in a way not seen since the 1930s, other changes in consumer behaviors and mindsets have had a major impact on brick-and-mortar stores. Here is a look at some of the biggest changes, and how they influenced retail.
Recessions have typically driven increases in store brand purchases, but not at the level seen this time around. In addition, post-recession behavior has typically been for consumers to return to national brands when things got better, but this time more shoppers are sticking with private label products. Several factors are at play here: a greater acceptance of private label as “real” products, better-quality store brands, multi-tier store brand programs, and a new frugality mindset from consumers, especially upper income shoppers. The opportunity for retailers is to jump on this wagon quickly. There has never been a better time for private label growth. All that is needed is a strong program that offers good value (i.e., more than just cheap food) and supports the overall brand proposition. Nothing helps to drive loyalty as much as a quality product that isn’t available anywhere else.
The rise of social media has turned the world of retail -- both online and offline -- upside down. In mid-2008, Facebook surpassed MySpace as the most-visited social media site and soon became the most visited Web site, period. Twitter, FourSquare, Yelp, and Pinterest have had varying levels of success, but all have left their impression on retail by allowing consumers to communicate quickly and effortlessly about shopping and deals. “Haul videos” were the rage for a while with the younger set, showing wares brought home after shopping sprees.
The past five years have been chock full of both challenges and opportunities for retail marketers. The next five are likely to see more of the same. Bertrand Russell once stated: "It’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted." That has never been truer than it is today.